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2018 Skoda Octavia RS245 liftback performance review

By Trent Giunco, 15 Nov 2018 Reviews

2018 Skoda Octavia RS245 liftback review

What’s the diff? Liftback variant Czechs into the real world

Sometimes, to achieve your best, you have to be given the right conditions to excel. That’s something MOTOR hasn’t really afforded the Skoda Octavia RS245. The reality is, even though it’s more an evolution rather than revolution of its predecessor, we’ve only sampled the new car on a racetrack in Oz. Not exactly a place you’d expect to find a $45,490 family-sized liftback.

However, that’s the beauty of this performance-orientated Octavia. It’s a sleeper, with few design cues pertaining to what lies beneath. And that would be the same 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo found in the VW Golf GTI.

The figures come in a 180kW and 370Nm, which is sent to the front wheels via a seven-speed wet-clutch DSG (the six-speed manual has been dropped). A recent update sees all RS Octavias now gain this tune and the tricky diff. The RS245 keeps its place atop the food chain with adaptive dampers and extra kit as standard.

While the passive dampers deliver comfortable and engaging dynamics with aplomb, the adaptive dampers (and resulting drive modes) allow for a newfound duality. In Comfort, there’s enough control and absorption of bumps to press on without fuss, the only drawback being slight body roll.

Bang For Your Bucks 2018: Skoda Octavia RS245 wagon track review

The way the 1366kg MQB chassis handles open-radius, third- and fourth-gear corners is impressive. The renowned boosted four feels stronger than the numbers suggest given the rate of knots that can be achieved. The 225/35 R19 Pirelli P Zero rubber also offers substantial lateral grip, both in wet and dry conditions.

Yet, for all its competence, there’s one elephant still in the room. The traction issues we felt on track have translated onto the road. To clarify, it isn’t down to a lack of front-end nous on turn-in – the RS245 fervently dispatches understeer into a corner.

However, once through the apex, the Octavia can torque steer wide due to its inability to fully harness all the power with lock. The electronically controlled mechanical LSD isn’t aggressive enough to offer the grip and go (axle tramp also remains) needed out of first- and second-gear bends.

Ultimately, this isn’t an issue most of the time and if you use guiding inputs, rather than abrupt manoeuvres, the Octavia shines. The truth is the RS245 is a Golf GTI in family-friendly clothes. It’s the hot hatch for adults.

The pricing restructure, addition of the full-fat EA888 engine and LSD to the entire range has slightly muddied the RS245’s waters. It’s now not the clear-cut go-to. But if you want all the goodies and the adaptive dampers, it still makes a lot of sense.

An extended stint on real roads in daily conditions renders the hotted-up Octavia a car you can genuinely use every day, yet also has the ability to excite when the mood takes you. Given the right conditions, the Octavia RS245 certainly excels.

Tested and rated on MOTOR review

2018 SKODA OCTAVIA RS245 LIFTBACK SPECS:
Engine:
 1984cc inline-4, DOHC, 16v, turbo
Power: 180kW @ 5000-6700rpm
Torque: 370Nm @ 1600-4300rpm
Weight: 1366kg
0-100km/h: 6.6sec (claimed)
Price: $45,490

Like: Still the Golf GTI for the family; impressive turn of speed; ride and handling; practicality
Dislike: Axle tramp and wheelspin still an issue despite the LSD; badge snobs

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars